For the Everyday Ordinary...

"Normal Day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all in the world, for your return." ~ Mary Jean Iron

Friday, January 13, 2012

By-the-seat-of-your-pants Cooking

I often use the by-the-seat-of-your-pants (or my pants, rather) method of peasant cooking.  I rarely measure anything - just do it intuitively and by taste.

However, there is a soup I make this time of year especially that I just LOVE and really wanted to share it with you all.  I will do my best to share measurements, but never be afraid to just get in the kitchen and wing it - I do it all the time and haven't killed (or poisoned) my family yet!

First, I gather my ingredients.  In this case, I was kinda cleaning out the pantry and fridge and ended up with:

a tablespoon of minced garlic (I loooovvveee garlic!)
a drizzle of olive oil (like, maybe a few tablespoons)
2 stalks of celery
a box of sliced mushrooms
2 zucchinis
a few handfuls of fresh baby spinach (but you could use frozen, too)
some summer squash I froze from my garden
a jar of canned tomatoes, also from the garden
a half bag of frozen green beans (NOT from my garden)
an onion
a few potatoes
some wine (because it goes with everything - you may pour a glass of it and sip as you cook AND add it to the soup...I do...)
a container of chicken broth (but you can use veggie broth if you want.  I had some homemade in the freezer, but I didn't feel like thawing it)
a can of red kidney beans (but you can use any kind of bean - I like to add it for extra fiber and protein)
sea salt, pepper and some Italian blend herbs
A big, round loaf of Italian peasant bread

Ok, chop up the onion and celery.  Drizzle some olive oil in the pan and turn up the heat - make the oil HOT.  Add the minced garlic, stir a moment, then add in the celery and onion.  Turn the heat down and let the veggies soften and brown a little bit, stirring often (this makes the house smell delicious and everyone wanders down to the kitchen to find out what's cooking...):
 Here's my pretty little jar of summertime! =)  I'm very proud of it!
 Next, add in the mushrooms and continue to stir things around and let the mushrooms soften a bit:
While the mushrooms are cooking, chop the zucchinis fat - in large chunks and add to the pot.  Let these cook (stirring often - and you will want to so you can stand over it and SMELL it!) for 5 or so minutes:
 Next comes the wine and broth.  Pour in the broth, then add about a 1/2 cup of white wine (really, any wine will do.  Remember, I haven't killed my family yet...)

 Add a bit of pepper and sea salt - I eyeball it, but I'd say about 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon of each:
 Next I pour in the tomatoes, juice and all.  These are whole tomatoes, but very soft, so I stir the pot and break up the tomatoes a little.
 Then I bring it to a boil.  Once it is boiling,
 I add in the potatoes:
 I bring to a boil again for a few minutes (like 5 or 10), then add in the green beans:
 and frozen summer squash (also proud of these as they came from my garden!)
 I rinse the beans
 and add them to the pot, then bring to a boil once more
 While I'm waiting for it to boil, I clean up the kitchen.  My mom got me this nifty little bag dryer thingy.  I love chickens and I adore the colors of this!  It dries bags nicely, too.
 Mmmmmm!  Can you smell that???  Once it begins boiling, I turn it down to a gentle simmer and let it simmer for 10-20 minutes,  until the veggies are sort of al dente.  I like to put a top on but not on all the way so steam escapes (or it will boil over) because I don't want it to reduce - I want to keep it juicy!
 The last five minutes or so, I add in a few handfuls of fresh baby spinach:
 and about a tablespoon (or a little less) of Italian blend herbs:
 Just looking at this makes me hungry!!
Finally, pour it in a bowl, pour a glass of wine (optional), cut you a slice of Italian panne and ENJOY! (on a bit of a side note, the bread is very taste torn into large chunks and added to the soup)


  1. But that's the best kind of cooking! That looks DELICIOUS! I've been craving a good wintery soup for literally weeks now. With tons of veggies and beans and such, but I've been unable to indulge this craving due to being snowed in and not having the ingredients on hand.

  2. Sorry to hear you are snowed in!! We had our first snow on Monday - it stuck to everything but the roads so it was the perfect snow in my book! lol! I hope you can get out soon and indulge your craving!


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